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How To Save Overwatered English Ivy? (Signs, Causes+Fix)

One common problem that every houseplant faces is overwatering. Many factors like frequent watering, poorly drained soil, and pots with no drainage holes can lead to this problem.

You can save your overwatered English Ivy with the following steps:

  1. Stop watering your English Ivy.
  2. Keep it in a well-lit spot so the soil can dry out fast.
  3. Cut the discolored and damaged leaves with sharp and sterilized pruners.
  4. Remove the plant from its pot and check the roots.
  5. Prune the infected roots and keep only the healthy ones.
  6. Repot in a new container with fresh potting mix.
  7. Resume watering once the plant recovers and water when the top layers are dry.

This article will discuss how to save an overwatered English Ivy plant. This article will also discuss the various reasons that cause overwatering in your English Ivy and the solutions to fix it.


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Underwatered vs. overwatered ivy

Plants give out signs when they face unfavorable conditions.

An overwatered ivy will show similar signs to an underwatered ivy, like wilting leaves.

But you will find some differences that will help you distinguish between the two.

Overwatered English ivy Underwatered English ivy
Soggy soil. A foul smell coming from the soil. Dry and compact soil
Soft stems Crisp stems
Water-soaked spots (Edema) Dry brown edges on leaves
The difference between the signs of an overwatered and underwatered English ivy

What does Overwatered English ivy look like?

When your English ivy experiences some problem, it shows signs indicating something is wrong with its health.

If you can identify the signs of overwatering early, it will become much easier to recover your plant.

An overwatered English ivy will show the following signs:

  • Soggy soil
  • Wilted and droopy leaves
  • Yellow leaves
  • Weaker stems
  • Brown spots on leaves
  • Foul odor from the soil
  • Stunted growth
  • Mushy, brown, or black roots
  • Dropping of leaves
  • Edema
  • Fungal infections

These signs can indicate other problems, too, so you should inspect your plant carefully to identify the exact problem.

To get a clear idea of whether your Ivy is overwatered or not, check the soil moisture level.

You can use a moisture meter or insert your index finger into the soil to check the moisture content.

If you find that the soil is damp and moist, understand that your English Ivy is overwatered.

In such conditions, take immediate actions to treat your plant.

Impact of overwatering English ivy

We often overwater our English ivy, thinking more watering will encourage faster growth.

But in reality, overwatering does more bad than good.

Prolonged overwatering can even be the cause of your Ivy’s death.

Let us now understand how you risk your Ivy’s life whenever you overwater it.


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Overwatering saturates the roots

Whenever you overwater your Ivy, the oxygen level decreases, due to which the roots get suffocated and fail to breathe properly.

The roots get damaged and fail to perform various physiological functions.

Overwatering encourages fungal infections

When the roots remain drowned in water, the soggy soil creates an ideal environment for various fungal diseases and microbes.

You can avoid this situation by providing your English Ivy with adequate watering and well-drained soil that supports air circulation around the roots. 

Overwatering draws pests to the English Ivy

Overwatering keeps the soil soggy for prolonged periods.

Damp soil will attract various pests to the plant as it is the ideal condition for them to breed and multiply.

Various pests like aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, scales, and whiteflies feed on English Ivy.

They suck the sap from the leaves that contain water and nutrients needed for the plant’s survival.

Lack of moisture and nutrients will make the plant weak and unhealthy.

The pests can also kill your plant if you don’t get rid of them.

Causes of overwatering in your English ivy

English Ivy watering

Watering the ivy too often can primarily cause overwatering.

However, there are a lot more reasons that can cause overwatering to your English Ivy. 

Frequent watering

Overwatering occurs when you frequently water your English Ivy without checking the soil’s moisture level.

English Ivy favors growing in slightly dry soil, so you should not water it too often.

The English Ivy will get overwatered if you frequently water the soil without letting the top soil dry.

On average, an English Ivy plant will require watering every 10-14 days and only when the top layers of the soil are dry. 

Watering the ivy without following a proper watering schedule and not checking the soil’s moisture level can lead to overwatering.

Poorly drained soil

English Ivy will grow best in soil that retains sufficient moisture but drains excess water.

The potting mix should be light, well-drained, and well-aerated and mimic the soil conditions of the plant’s natural habitat.

If the soil mix is too heavy, it will retain water for longer, causing an overwatering condition.

The soil will require a longer time to dry, and the plant will get overwatered even if you water it correctly.

If the reason behind overwatering is poorly drained soil, you can improve the soil drainage by adding ingredients like compostperlite, or sand.

You can also recover your plant by repotting it in new potting soil.

Prepare a new potting soil by mixing equal parts of perlitepeat moss, and soil to ensure retention and drainage.

Pot without drainage holes

Your English Ivy will get overwatered if you grow it in a pot that doesn’t support proper drainage.

The excess moisture will saturate the soil and block the airflow.

Therefore, the essential gases like oxygen will not get a way to travel to the root system. 

The roots will suffocate due to insufficient oxygen supply.

And the excess moisture will encourage root rot. 

This is the reason you should always use a pot with drainage holes.

Also, empty the catch tray frequently to prevent any situation of overwatering.



Wrong pot material

Organic pots soak the excess moisture due to their porous nature.

Terracotta or clay pots are porous, absorbing the excess moisture and allowing proper airflow into the roots.

On the other hand, pots such as ceramicplastic, or glass don’t allow proper air movement through their surface.

Hence, the watering depends on the pot you use for your plant.

If you use a plastic pot for your English ivy, you should water the plant less often as the soil does not dry out very fast in plastic pots.

In contrast, if you are growing your plant in a terracotta pot, you should water the plant more frequently as the soil will dry out in less time.

You should keep the potting material in mind while watering the soil.

Otherwise, you will end up overwatering your Ivy.

Incorrect pot size

If you are growing your English Ivy in a pot that is too large, it can easily lead to overwatering.

A large pot will hold more soil and water than smaller pots.

Hence, the soil will take longer to dry out in a large pot.

And in such conditions, if you water the plant without letting the soil dry, you will end up overwatering your plant.

You should always select a pot that is 1-2 inches bigger than the previous pot.

Also, never select a pot that is too small.

The plant will get root bound easily in a small pot, leading to many other problems.

Not changing the watering pattern in winter

Overwatering can occur if you follow the same watering pattern throughout the year.

English ivies reduce their growth during winter, and so require less water.

If you water it the same way as in summer or spring, it will get overwatered.

Can an overwatered ivy be saved?

The first thing you should do to prevent further damage is to stop watering the English ivy as soon as possible.

Avoid watering until all the moisture has dried out from the soil.

On average, 50% of soil should be dry before the next watering.

You should always check the soil’s moisture level before you plan on watering.

Check the soil by inserting your index finger 1-2 inches into the soil.

If the soil feels moist and sticky, avoid watering your English ivy.

But if the soil feels dry, water your plant thoroughly.

You can also check the soil’s moisture with a moisture meter

Let us now understand how you can fix your overwatered English Ivy:

  • If Your English Ivy is overwatered, stop watering it. Avoid watering it until the soil and roots become dry. The soil may take several days to dry out, and you shouldn’t worry if there is a huge gap between watering.
  • Keep your plant in a place that provides bright, indirect sunlight to help the soil dry out faster. But avoid keeping the plant in direct sunlight. Otherwise, the leaves will get scorched.
  • The growing area should have proper airflow so the excess moisture can evaporate fast.
  • If you notice standing water, move your ivy to a sink and tilt the pot to drain the water from the soil. Once the excess water drains, put your plant back into its growing place.
  • Check the drainage holes in the pot. If the drainage holes are clogged, clean them. If you don’t clean them, the blocked holes will not let the excess water drain out of the pot.
  • Add ingredients like perlite or sand to improve its texture if the soil is heavy or compact. You can also change the old soil with a new potting mix that supports retention and drainage.
  • Take out your English ivy from the pot, spread its roots and the soil on a piece of paper, and place them in a bright spot to help them dry faster.
  • Prune all the yellow, brown, or damaged leaves from the plant with sharp and sterile pruners. Pruning will reduce plant stress and help it focus on new growth.
  • Avoid fertilizing the plant when it is recovering. We know that fertilization is essential for providing the missing nutrients to the plant. But fertilizing a damaged plant will cause more harm than good to its health. Resume fertilizing once the health of your plant improves.

How do you save English Ivy from root rot?

Prolonged overwatering can cause a deadly disease to your English Ivy plant known as root rot.

Root rot damages the root system, which fails to transfer water and nutrients to all the parts of the plant.

The disease causes the roots to produce a foul odor and turn dark brown or black and mushy when touched.

It stops the plant’s growth and invites various pests and other diseases towards it.

If you have an English ivy with root rot, follow the steps given below to fix it.

  • Remove your English ivy from its pot and inspect whether it has root rot or not.
  • Gently brush the excess soil from the roots with your fingers. During this process, do not damage the healthy ones. If the soil looks moldy or green, discard it as it has a fungal infection and can contaminate the plant. If you notice that the roots are rotten and are emitting a bad smell, it is root rot. 
  • In such conditions, prune all the decaying roots, keeping back only the healthy ones. After that, apply a fungicide.
  • Take a new pot and fill it with new prepared potting soil. Repot your plant carefully in the pot and fill it with soil. Also, pat the pot on the sides to help the plant settle down.
  • Ensure the new pot is larger than the previous pot and has drainage holes to drain the extra water.
  • After repotting, keep the plant under bright and indirect sunlight.

Final words

Overwatering is a common problem. But you can fix it by providing your English Ivy with proper care and treatment. You should never water your plant without checking the soil’s moisture content. Water the soil when the top 1-2 inches of the soil feels dry when touched.

If your Ivy plant is overwatered, do not get worried and try to fix the problems with patience. Remove any standing water that you find. Stop watering and allow the excess moisture to dry out first.

If you suspect root rot, check the roots and remove the ones that look brown and mushy. Repot the English ivy in a new pot with fresh potting mix. Avoid all the causes of overwatering that I discussed in this article.


Reference: ResearchgateUniversity of TennesseeMississippi State UniversityCentral Florida Research and Education CenterU.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.